Wednesday, February 15, 2006

jesus vs jesus

what has happened to america's jesus? (thanks aaron)

"Several times during the week, I thought about telling my family what's happened to Jesus in the United States - how he's been kidnapped by politicians and preachers who decide what he does and doesn't think. They speak for him, and it doesn't always make sense.
They say Jesus is 'pro life,' but he doesn't seem to have a problem with the death penalty. And he thinks stem cell research - something that would save lives - is no different from murdering babies. They say he's the embodiment of kindness, love, decency and compassion. But he hates gays, lesbians and Muslims. And he's not too crazy about Buddhists, Hindus and the rest. Jews? He can put up with them if he has to."


Flyin J said...

so very true. My Jesus hates SUVs, but drives a pickup truck. It provides easiest access to his saws, planers, and other assorted carpentry tools.

chrinisticles said...

isn't it amazing how quickly we as human beings drop names. especially God's name. we want Him on our side.

so often what we end up doing is fashioning a 'god' in our minds that helps us to get what we want. that's exactly what politicians and 'evangelical christian leaders'do all the time.

i also point the finger at myself because i am so often guilty of doing this as well. God is a knowable Being not a machine i stick quarters into to get what i want.

basically we're guilty of using His name in vain and of idolatry.

chuck said...

"i plege allegiance to jesus christ of america, for who the republic stands..." thanks for that american flag/jesus shot. it's so eeriely, classicly, unconscienciously true. it's like the whole all powerful image of white bearded santa vs. all powerful image of white bearded old man god. we've done a damn good job drawing deity as comic book characters...

Foon Hasker said...

I would be interested to see where christians talk of Christ hating Muslims etc
Surely you are not equating aborting a child with the death penalty.
The bible clearly teaches that there are grounds for the death penalty. Right after the command not to murder. Trust you appreciate the difference.
As for stem cell research do you know that it is not killing a baby?
If not then surely you are aware you ought side with caution where life is concerned. Whatever is not of faith is sin.
And why is anyone who believes that it is killing a baby some sort of nut. You could save multiple lives by donating the body up of any living child or adult.
Lastly even putting forward your thoughts you would hope that they are in line with how Christ thinks.
Why are other preachers who may be wrong attacked for their insincerity?
No doubt christians ought to think more but don't assume so many leaders are careless fools using God's name to promote their own ends.
Many are just people trying to serve God who sometimes get it wrong.
Of course i'm not talking of wild extremist such as the nutters over at
but in general it is too easy to point fingers.

Stacy said...

Yes, apparently Ray Nagin's Jesus wants a "chocolate" New Orleans.

pedro said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pedro said...

foon hasker,

I appreciate the spirit of what you say, and I will not personally agree or disagree with you, but I will play devil's advocate.

The assumption that the Bible supports the death penalty in America because it is it is nestled within the Mosaic law and alongside the decalogue is faulty. The Law also supports the death penalty for adultury, dishonoring parents, stepping intho the Most Holy Place of the Temple, and a number of other transgressions. This is because these things transgress upon the holiness of God. Israel, in short, was a theocracy. America is not. It is a democracy, a system of government in which the law of the land is dictated by the will of the people. And America is not, has never been, and will probably never be a "Christian" nation, even though our public ethics and morals (as such) are indebted to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Granted, Christianity has been a dominant cultural force during periods of America's history and has provided impetus for cultural change, but unfortunately, "Christians" have also hindered positive social change as well.

The law of Moses is not the normative, foundational document of American government; the U.S. Constitution (as interpreted and amended through time) is.

Having an opinion is not wrong. Espousing an opinion is not wrong. Bigotry and dogmatism are wrong (I am not at all saying that these terms describe you; in fact, I am, in part, agreeing with you when you say that Christians are people who serve God and someitmes get it wrong) and are harmful. When we espouse judgmentalism, people see spiteful humans, not a redemptive God.

Case in point: This last weekend, my wife and I were visiting my gay brother in Aspen, CO. He and a gay friend hooked us up on an overnight snowshoe trip to a hut in the mountains. After dinner, and before our gorgeous moonlight hike, the four of us sat down around the table and talked. I explained that as someone who is at once liberal and conservative, I feel that both liberals and conservatives are aoftn close-minded - liberals for accepting all views but an absolute view, and conservatives for accepting that only their particular view of absolutes is valid. I told Zander, my brother's friend, that I don't hate him for being gay and that I can't accuse him of being a sinner, because I am a sinner myself. For us to judge others is like a criminal convicting a fellow inmate (remember the parable of the servant who was forgiven a great debt and turned wround and accosted a fellow servant for a far, far lesser debt?). What drives me, I said, is love and compassion, for Christ is transforming me to become more like himself. Only he can judge, because he is the standard of perfection; paradoxically, he has chosen not to judge us but to humble himself in order to lift us up by his grace, thus redeeming us. Zander said he wishes more Christians lived compassionately.

When we judge, people see us and hate us; when we have compassion, we show people Christ.

Lian said...

Let's be careful that we call each other to Christ rather than bash - judge - those among us who are openly unloving or manipulative. The man shouting "God hates fags" has committed no more gross a sin than the gay man to which he is being hateful and neither of them any more gross a sin than the way I have often treated my own wife. Let's not be intolerant of intolerance. It makes us look stupid for one thing.

Anonymous said...

I think that it it so important for believers to be loving, firstly to each other (Jesus seemed to have a bit of a thing for unity) and then to the world. I can easily get humiliated and angry when my brother or sister in Christ claims I am on the highway to hell because I read NIV translation and have body piercings and tattoos. I DO feel shame and simultaneous rage when I hear things like this, however it is my duty to love them anyway.

Hmmm...I know that this is not what the topic of conversation is, but I shuddered when reading that "Jesus has been kidnapped by preachers and politicians". My creator so not so impotent as to be kidnapped and helpless by tiny little people who say this or that. My God created the world with a thought, slaughtered His own arm, and against any sense of human logic redeemed all mankind. There is not enough human power in the world to "kidnap" or render Him useless. ( I know that that is not what is being indicated in that first paragraph, but I felt like I had to say it.)


elnellis said...

lian- thanks for calling me on being intolerant to intolerance, that is a sandpit i am prone to. me desire is that intolerance be engaged in a way that is spacious for conversation. if that has not been achived, i hope i can learn how to better facilitate that in the future.

i guess what i find significant is that we live in the realities we create. one theologian called america the "protestant victory" (an existing dynamic there needs to be more wresteling with)- and while jesus will not be boxed in, we live as though we have achieved just this- and in a sense, he is subjected to the way we choose to relate to him.
but the ontological reality is that this is not so, yet we are embeded in contexts in which we cannot think outside of what we know. the notion of america being a "christian nation" needs to be addressed, as does the notion that if you are a christian, you need to vote republican and support preemtive strikes and just war... this only reflects our embeded assumption that the "axis of evil" is "out there"- not next door or much less in my own heart.

pedro said...


Even though I often fall into the trap of bashing the manipulative and judgmental, I agree with you in principle that we neede not and should not fall into that trap.

The reason I can love my gay brother and his gay friends is because I know that I have real (not merely abstract) sin in my own life; how can one sinner judge another (removing a splinter from someone else when we should be removing a plank from ourselves). I am am thus challenged to love the manipulative.

On a related strand, what is the proper place for anger? I become infuriated when I see modern-day pharisees condemn "sinners." Practically, how can we "be angry and not sin?"

foon hasker said...

I don't agree that all sin is equal. Even God's law have different levels of punishment. I know what James says and really think he is talking of the basis of sin being equal not the outcome.
It is important i think that when Paul alludes to homosexuality in Romans that he sums up by telling us that God has allowed thses things to go on so that He may have mercy on them all. God's intent towards the homosexual is mercy.
The war in Iraq, surely there are some things that would unite christians and overthrowing an evil dictator who averaged the murder of 70,000 of his own people a year is one of them.
The situation is not ideal but there are more Iraqi's alive today as a result of that war.
To equate the evil in your own heart with such dictators is somewhat over the top.
I take it you have a new nature, how much of that is evil?
What does the word Intent mean? and how can it relate to how we are seen in the eyes of a righteous judge?

foon hasker said...

"They say he's the embodiment of kindness, love, decency and compassion. But he hates gays, lesbians and Muslims. And he's not too crazy about Buddhists, Hindus and the rest. Jews? He can put up with them if he has to."
Are you sure your not creating villians that don't exist?
With the exception of extremist i don't see those views preached anywhere in the main stream church.
I could be wrong.

pedro said...

foon hasker,

I believe that sin is sin (we all need grace), but obviously the consequences from some sins are greater that the consequences from others. I think that this is what you were saying about James.

However, I also think that the potential for sin may be an important aspect of the discussion as well. Who's to say that I would not have done what Saddam or Hitler have done had I been in their shoes? Significantly, I am not in their shoes, so the consequences for my sin are less than the consequences for their sin.

A "Let the punishment fit the crime" mentailty is both present in the Law of Moses and (possibly to a lesser extent) within our own legal system. However, under the New Covenant, we know that the Spirit indwells those of us who have been saved by grace, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Thus all who walk with Christ will become more like Christ (theoretically, even Hitler and Saddam, should they follow Christ's calling). Humanly, punishments still exist for criminality, even if we have been washed clean by Christ (the baptism scene from O Brother Where Art Thou comes to mind), but the sinner is right before God.

As to your most recent posting, I would agree that most mainstream evangelicals are very tolerant and, in an abstract sort of way, loving toward those of other sexual preferences and religions. However, those that are not are a very vocal minority. Back to my gay brother, he and everyone who had some sort of connection to him were recently kicked out of Pensacola Christian College. Absolutely no grace has ever been exhibited by that particular institution. When I asked how we can be angry and not yet sin, I amtalking specifically about my anger related to this specific situation. By contrast, at Moody Bible Institute, where I went to college, someone who was found out to be gay was not immediatelt kicked out; rather, at least an attempt of restoration was made. So again, I admit that it is a struggle for me to love the manipulative (PCC being a prime example in my experience) who themselves demonstrate no love. In this light, Christ's love for the basest of the base takes on epic, incomprehensible proportions in my thinking.

Beyond the fact that we don't routinely "hate" on those who are of other sexual persuasions or religions (passive love), I'm pretty sure that most mainstream evangelicals don't actively pursue friendships with these types of people (proactive love). I know I didn't; I am still grappling with the fact of my brother's homosexuality and what it means to love him. The time I spent with him in Aspen, beyond being beautiful, was a very real emotional struggle for me. It was hard to see my brother being physically affectionate with his friend. My angst, however, is a sacrifice that I must give in order to continue to pursue a redemptive relationship with my brother and his friend.

elnellis said...

hey foon, i'm glad you find this forum engaging, in the sense that you keep coming back, welcome, whoever you are.
i'd want to note first that i did not write the words i posted, they are a quote from the linked article, which i thought brought up some really good points to dialogue around. i don't agree with everything in the article (for expample, the idea that jesus is about relationship- i believe he primarily was about relationship and the kingdom of heaven).
i'm not out to "create villans" by any means. rather, i thought the quote you referrenced to be of particular value in that it addressed the dichotomies that are rampant in the christian arena (i am guilty of these too, but am slowly becoming more aware of these). like pedro mentioned in the instance of his brother, we are continually called by Christ to enter into the relational "subjectivity" of the situation instead of applying out-of-context/blanket-statment judgments that ease our moral discomfort.

Lian said...

Really interesting discussion. Looking at Christ, he certainly had the most to say against the Pharisees and their pride and gracelessness - however, again, Christ is certainly in a far better place to judge than I am and, as you say, Pedro, he chose not to judge even them but to extend grace (Nicodemus for instance). Certainly different sins carry different consequences - and I would say, in this case that the consequences for being irresponsible as a teacher and representative of Christ's word are far more grave than falling into sin outside of his body. (at the same time, of course, the consequences of ignoring his grace are gravest of all.) As a side point, I think that if the average Christian (from my experience) has a problem loving anyone it isn't a member of the gay community or someone who's had an abortion or whatever - it's usually the annoying boss at work, the pastor at their church, the person sitting next to them in a church service who smells bad or talks too much.

Jaime said...

phil, i liked the article i see a lot of truth in it.

"...surely there are some things that would unite christians and overthrowing an evil dictator who averaged the murder of 70,000 of his own people a year is one of them."

I'm sorry but i will never unite with somebody that's ok with murdering innocent people in revenge(afganistan) or just for Oil(Iraq), be it christian or muslim.

foon hasker said...

True that though christians may not judge homosexuals that they don't really make much effort to engage them either.
It used to be that way with going into a pub and engaging witht he unsaved.
We seem to have come away somewhat from that mentality.
"I'm sorry but i will never unite with somebody that's ok with murdering innocent people in revenge(afganistan) or just for Oil(Iraq)"
Sorry jaime but where do you get the idea that afganistan was revenge? The suggestion that Iraq was about oil is bad conspiracy. Something that you could not possibly back up with anything factual.
I felt grief during the Iraqi war for those civilians that were dieing. However would you prefer that nothing had happened and many more people had died?
Women in particular have been liberated in Afghanistan. Gotta be happy about that right? with respect to the cost, which are still far less than doing nothing.
I do find this blog engaging. I trust that my comments do not come over as offensive where i may disagree.

elnellis said...

a correction to my most recent comment:

"(for example, the idea that jesus is about religion- i believe he primarily was about relationship and the kingdom of heaven)"

great discussion everyone.

nathan Barrett said...

WOW - interesting on many levels. Thanks for sticking you neck out Phil and posting this. Hijacking Jesus seems to be the practice of any and everyone who speaks His name. Do we really know Him, Have we arrived? I continually hijack Him, especially when I justify my use of the word "shit" by explaining that Jesus used "bad" words too when it was appropriate. Language is a stewardship and I will account for every "shit" I use whether it is bad or good and for every argument that I use Jesus example in, whether I am right or wrong. I do think that your attitude in writing this is Christ-like Phil. I've been reading throught the Gospels since the beginning of the year and am blown away by how negative Jesus was towards the Pharisees, Scribes and sometimes towards the disciples. He was a cynic at times and got frustrated with the reasoning continually - mostly because they tried to see things black and white rather than through the eyes of complexity which requires faith. I am in Israel writing this and have had conversations with both Jews, Americans who want to be Jews and with Palestinians. The issues are not easy - there is no easy answer but he media wants news so they cast the black and white info in full color all over the globe. It takes faith to understand this and I feel like Jesus would feel just as frustrated with the attitudes of simpletons who see it black and white as he was with the Pharisees and disciples - and He would give them shit for it. Nothing wrong with this posting, it is Christ-like, it only needs to be followed up with some hope, real Hope.